Friday, December 02, 2005

Digg: "Bellsouth wants to rig the Internet"

The CTO of BellSouth raised a s**tstorm blogstorm of controversy when Digg picked up his comments that, "an Internet service provider such as his firm should be able, for example, to charge Yahoo Inc. for the opportunity to have its search site load faster than that of Google Inc." In other words, the carrier could decide which content provider gets preferential treatment -- not based on consumer demand or technical need, but on back-room dealings. This would mean the end of "network neutrality" and perhaps incite a war between content providers and ISPs intent on taxing packets.

The Washington Post notes that some view "[p]rioritization [as] just another word for degrading your competitor... If we want to ruin the Internet, we'll turn it into a cable TV system [that carries programming from only those who pay the cable operators for transmission]."

Some of the more noteworthy remarks at Digg include the following:

BellSouth is a phone provider, and historically they have received special treatment (such as rights to string their phone lines everywhere) in exchange for not discriminating in their services provided and such. They have often gotten common carrier status, sort of thing. If they are going to start "improving" the quality of their other services, thus degrading their competitors services, then they don't deserve that common carrier status any more. They should be held liable for anything transmitted over their networks, since they are exercising their abilities to give priority to certain types of traffic and possibly to filter some traffic.

I don't understand this. Am I not already paying for the pipe that i use to access Yahoo, Google, vonage, etc? I dunno, It sounds like the high tech equivalent of a protection racket. "Mr. Google, you should probably pay us more money. We wouldn't want anything to 'happen' to your packets now would we?"

These moldy old copper barons are really delusional about their place in the world these days. People pay them to get access to content on the internet. If the net's big content providers have any brains at all they will respond to the first ISP to do this by blocking that ISP's customers with a polite message stating why they are doing so along with some handy links to that ISP's competitors who aren't selling damaged service. The network is a commodity now, it's the content that matters. These guys have it backwards.

EduCase picked up one of my earlier articles on network neutrality. If you feel strongly about network neutrality, contact the FCC commissioners and let them know (politely) what you think about telcos trying to tax packets.

read more | digg story

Geoff Fox
Northern Telecom

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